Several European chemical companies have been undertaking surveys of likely near-term demand from the auto sector, and have been kind enough to share their conclusions with the blog.
The results are not encouraging. It appears that every European car producer has announced plans for an extended Christmas shutdown of at least 2 weeks, compared to the usual 1 week. Some will shut for up to a month.
The issue is that European car sales are now starting to collapse, as they did 6 months ago in the US. As recently as July, when US sales were already down c22%, European sales were "only" down 7% versus 2007. But now JD Power say European sales were down 25% in November, a clear sign that a major downturn is underway. And as the blog first noted back in February, this also means increased credit risk for chemical suppliers with OEMs in the auto market.